DVD Review: Miss Minoes

Miss Minoes DVDSTUDIO: Music Box | DIRECTOR: Vincent Bal | CAST: Carice van Houten, Theo Massen, Sarah Bannier, Pierre Bokma, Marisa Van Eylen
DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/12/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.95
BONUSES: cat bloopers
SPECS: PG | 86 min. | Family fantasy | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital | In Dutch with English subtitles/Dubbed in English.

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Based on the 1970 book by Dutch children’s author Annie M.G. Schmidt, 2001’s Miss Minoes is an easy-going and surprisingly diverting fantasy family film, refreshing with its simplicity and low-tech veneer.

Miss Minoes, simply, is about a cat who, in the movie’s opening minutes, magically transforms into a woman. Still displaying many cat-like traits, Miss Minoes is eager to regain her fur, but not before she helps out a talented-but-shy local journalist (Theo Maasen) in her small Dutch town. How to do this? By recruiting all her friends—cats portrayed by actual cats—to dig up some exclusive news stories for her new reporter buddy. The stakes are raised when Miss Minoes’ posse uncovers a nefarious scheme by a local industrialist … until the day is saved and the townspeople, kitties, reporter and the leading tabby herself all have reason to celebrate.

Miss Minoes movie scene

Carice van Houten is a cat-turned-woman in Miss Minoes.

Carice Van Houten, who had yet to star in her breakout role in Paul Verhoeven’s 2006 Black Book, has fun with the part, even though we’re hearing her dialog in a dubbed English voice. (Both dubbed and subtitles versions are available on the DVD, but the dubbed one works best for kids.)

Physically, though, as she peppers her performance with feline-ish movements and ticks (some less subtle than others, like her habit of rubbing her face against other people’s faces), Van Houten is quite fun to watch. And to think, a decade after Miss Minoes’ production, Van Houten is casting spells and taking off her clothes a lot as the dark priestess Melisandre in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The film’s visual effects, again, aren’t razzle-dazzle—the numerous four-legged members of Miss Minoes’ “Cat News Service,” all speak (er, in dubbed English) with Babe-like f/x enhancing their mouths to make it look like they’re really talking. The cats’ many nighttime meetings atop Miss Minoes’ apartment building (on a set that’s reminiscent  of the London rooftops in Mary Poppins), are sweetly precocious in their earnestness.

The other performers are fine and the direction by veteran Dutch filmmaker Vincent Bal is steady, moving the serviceable, family-friendly story forward adequately. But it’s really all about Ms. Van Houten and her furry friends, all of whom are sure to bring a smile to cat-loving adults who’ve popped the movie into the player for their kids.

A collection of cat bloopers is included as a bonus feature on the DVD. Awwwwwww…

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About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).